Background: My informant is a friend of mine of Chinese heritage. He is active in the gaming and computer science communities, and is very knowledgeable about memes and internet culture. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well.
Context: This conversation was recorded on a zoom meeting that we had on a Wednesday afternoon. My informant is a friend of mine, and the conversation occurred in both of our rooms. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. During the call and in between our discussions of different folklore items, we talked socially about how his finals were going. Thus, this conversation relatively casual. The main piece is made up of a transcription of our call.
Main Piece: All right. Like, have you ever heard of people say like f in the chat or like Press F to pay respects.
Me: Oh yeah, that’s like pay respect right
Yeah, press have to pay respect, like that’s like from call of duty. But now, people just use it as a generic way to, like, say like oh I’m sad for you, like, That’s unlucky, whatever.
You do, you know, like how it started in Call of Duty, like how did that happen?
Someone posted like a picture and I don’t know, it was like a meme. So it started as like a picture someone posts that unlike other subreddit, or like some kind of forum. And people just kind of spread the image everywhere. It was like a while ago, but like, kind of like subtle asian traits (a popular Facebook group) y’know.
Yeah, anyway, so, it was for Call fo Duty Advanced Warfare in that game. There was like a scene when you’re…when you’re playing on PC. Like you’re…you’re at a funeral, and you have to pay respects, so you press the F button that’s just what you do.
And so like a youtuber actually he uploaded it. Like a video of the sequence about when you touch the like the casket to pay respects and then after that, like when the thing got posted. Conan O’Brien actually…He reviewed the game and criticize the gameplay especially like the Press F to pay respects part because it was like…O, it’s just such a stupid like a meaningless kind of action and then from then on, there were like videos like… so there were like videos called like intense respect playing.
And now…a lot of people just refer to, like, sad events or like if like you’re trying to empathize with someone. They just say F, like in the chat as much as specifically for like Twitch chat, I guess, but like a mutation on the meme.
Thoughts: I was at once really impressed and somewhat surprised about my informant’s knowledge of the meme and/or saying of Press F. My informant is generally the type of individual to be knowledgeable about these things, and the origin of this gaming folklore is relatively recent, so I cannot say I am totally surprised by his knowledge. Nevertheless, I think it’s fascinating how he plays the role of a folklorist as he analyzes and details how the saying and meme has evolved over time.